Saturday, January 31, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX: The Q&A

Super Bowl weekend is upon us, as is the annual tradition of the Super Bowl Inquisitor visiting my humble little site. This is the 10th Super Bowl where SBI & I have done this back-and-forth bit. Ironically, the Seattle Seahawks were also in the first Super Bowl prediction segment we did back in February 2006. This year they take on the New England Patriots, who are attempting to win that elusive fourth title in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. goes nuthin'.

Super Bowl Inquisitor: I have a goal to frame questions and statements to where you won't delve into  a bunch of tedious '80s references.
Brad Carlson: Yeah, good luck with that.

SBI: Have you heard of Idina Menzel?
BC: Is she any relation to Johnny Football?

SBI: No, no. She's MENzel; He's MANziel. Ms. Menzel will be singing the National Anthem.
BC: Oh. Then, no.

SBI: Any general impressions of singer Katy Perry, this year's halftime entertainment headliner?
BC: Well, if her lineage is any indication, she'll do a great job!

SBI: Oh, were her parents good singers?
BC: You mean to tell me you never heard of her dad Steve Perry, who was lead singer of Journey?

SBI: OK, you deliberately invoked Steve Perry and Journey to undercut my efforts to prevent '80s references. You know damn well her real name is Katy Hudson.
BC: As in the daughter of actress Goldie Hawn, who starred in such '80s classic movies as Private Benjamin, Wildcats and Overboard??!?!

SBI: I give up.

OK, live in the now, please. Has the hype over DeflateGate finally died down?
BC: Probably not. All I know is the constant talk of shrunken balls has resulted in more double entendres than a Three's Company episode. 

SBI: Does it bother you that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch doesn't talk to the media?
BC: Not a bit. 

SBI: Care to elaborate?
BC: Hey, I'm just here so I don't get fined.

SBI: Uh Huh. This is the third time in Super Bowl history where the head coach of one team replaced in his current job the guy coaching the opposing team (In this case, Bill Belichick replaced Pete Carroll as Patriots coach in 2000). Does that stat do anything for ya?
BC: It's analogous to when Jimmy Smits replaced David Caruso as the main co-star of NYPD Blue. That show did far better under Smits than Caruso, but David still found success later on in CSI: Miami. 

SBI: Yeah, but did Smits and Caruso ever go head-to-head for an Emmy Award?
BC: Ya got me there. 

SBI: It's been rumored that next season the NFL will not use Roman numerals to signify which Super Bowl number is being played. 
BC: Makes sense. Given the bad P.R. the league has suffered over the past year, Super Bowl L would give off a bad vibe.

SBI: What would be your dream cuisine for a Super Bowl party?
BC: So glad you asked. If anyone's willing to assist me, I'm willing to make this:

SBI: Damn! We'll be in touch. 

OK, we tried this bit two years ago, so let's do it again. It's "either/or" regarding Super Bowl cities. 

Beverages - Samuel Adams Boston Lager or a Starbucks latte?
BC: Is that a serious question?

SBI: Food - New England Clam Chowder or Fish n Chips?
BC: Fish n Chips

SBI: Tourist attractions - Freedom Trail or The Space Needle?
BC: Freedom Trail

SBI: Music - Aerosmith or Nirvana?
BC: Aerosmith

SBI: TV Characters - Cheers' Frasier Crane or Frasier's Frasier Crane?
BC: The Cheers version. I enjoyed his evolution that took him from stuff-shirt psychiatrist to whipped married guy to sex hound.

SBI: Politics - Elizabeth Warren or Patty Murray?
BC: Oof. My own senator Amy Klobuchar seems tolerable in comparison.

SBI: Without further ado, what is your prediction for the final score of Super Bowl 49?
BC: The current line I've seen is a "Pick 'Em," so I'm picking Seattle to prevail 23-17. If that happens, I hope Marshawn Lynch gets named MVP. The only question remaining is would he proclaim he's "going to DisneyWorld" or will he say something along the lines of "I'm only appearing in this commercial for the free trip?"

With that, thanks for another fun NFL season!

2014 Postseason record: 
Straight up: 7-3
Against the spread: 3-7


Can't see past the next step, don't have to think past the last mile.....

It's a special edition of the Northern Alliance Radio Network today, as I will join Mitch Berg live from Medicine Lake in Plymouth. From 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central, we will be broadcasting from the 5th Annual Holes for Heroes ice fishing tournament put on by the organization Fishing for Life

It's always a fun time, especially when members of our armed forces tune in via online video to see their loved ones participating in this fantastic event.

We also have a plethora of guests scheduled as well.

1:00 - Jason Quick, who is the State Director of the MN chapter of Concerned Veterans for America

2:00 - Miss Minnesota 2014 Savannah Cole, who will promote an upcoming fundraiser on behalf of the Epilepsy Foundation.

2:30 - Political commentator/graphics nerd/former radio guy Ben Kruse will stop by, probably to critique Salem Broadcasting's various affiliate logos.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Friday, January 30, 2015

He's no Harold Stassen

Mitt Romney will not make a third bid for the White House in 2016.

After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee.

When he says "other leaders," it's clear to me that he's not referring to someone like a Jeb Bush or Mike Huckabee.

I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.

I feel that it is critical that America elect a conservative leader to become our next president. You know that I have wanted to be that president. But I do not want to make it more difficult for someone else to emerge who may have a better chance of becoming that president. You can’t imagine how hard it is for Ann and me to step aside, especially knowing of your support and the support of so many people across the country. But we believe it is for the best of the Party and the nation.

Earlier this month, it was rumored that Romney was strongly considering another run. However, I was not very excited about the prospects of a third Mitt campaign. Even if he somehow won the nomination in 2016, Romney's biggest selling point of 2012 (i.e. he wasn't Obama) would be obsolete come '16.

In my mind, today was a mere confirmation in what was pretty well assumed. Within the past couple of days, The New York Times reported that Romney's Iowa strategist in both 2008 and 2012, David Kochel, joined Bush's political action committee as a senior strategist. It was also noted that Kochel may well become Bush's national campaign manager. That doesn't exactly instill a lot of confidence in Romney.

So now the prospective GOP establishment field has dwindled to Bush, Huckabee, Chris Christie and Lindsey Graham. Despite Romney insisting he could have been an effective fundraiser had he chosen to run, I find it hard to fathom how he could have peeled enough support away from the other aforementioned candidates to just win the Republican nomination. This was definitely the correct decision.


Thursday, January 29, 2015


There's no team in the NBA hotter than the Atlanta Hawks right now.

Their 113-102 win over the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday evening was their 17th consecutive victory and 31st win in their past 33 games.

Given the bad public relations the NBA endured last year over Donald Sterling's blatant racism, how awkward will it be if they have to present Hawks' GM Danny Ferry with the NBA Executive of the Year award?


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

30 years ago today.......

There are certain songs that, no matter how heavy a rotation they're played, give me goosebumps each and every time I hear them.

This would be one.

The all-star recording session for We Are the World, the biggest charity single of all time, took place 30 years ago Wednesday.

On Jan. 28, 1985, at A&M Recording Studios in Hollywood, following the American Music Awards, more than 40 artists gathered to record a song Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson had written to raise awareness of widespread, life-threatening poverty in Africa. Most of that show's winners — including Cyndi Lauper, Hall & Oates, Bruce Springsteen, Huey Lewis, Willie Nelson, Tina Turner, the Pointer Sisters, Kenny Rogers and the Jacksons — participated.

Inspired by the U.K. all-star charity single Do They Know it's Christmas?, released a few months earlier, We Are the World was released March 7, 1985, and went on to sell more than 20 million copies. The more than $75 million raised by non-profit organization USA for Africa helped to fight poverty on the continent. The song also won three Grammy Awards in 1986, including song and record of the year.

If you're fascinated by fascinating facts (like I am) then the entire USA Today story entitled 'We Are the World' at 30: 12 tales you might not know is a must read.

One anecdote missing was one which Kenny Loggins shared regarding a conversation he had with Paul Simon. Loggins claimed that Simon was looking around the room at the who's who of music superstars. Upon soaking in the cavalcade of talent, Simon allegedly turned to Loggins and said "If a bomb were to hit this place, John Denver would be #1 again."


Coming at Kline from all sides

A certain Republican in Minnesota's Second Congressional District is starting to get the vibe of being a perpetual candidate.

Republican activist David Gerson announced Monday during a press conference he will run against U.S. Rep. John Kline next year.

Kline represents the second congressional district, which covers the south Twin Cities metro area and contains all of Scott, Dakota, Goodhue, and Wabasha counties. It also covers northern and eastern Rice County including the city of Northfield, and southern Washington County including the city of Cottage Grove.

Gerson unsuccessfully ran against Kline last year.

In April last year, the CD2 Republican delegates endorsed Kline for reelection on the first ballot. In announcing his candidacy on Monday and during a radio interview Tuesday morning on the lesser Twin Cities conservative talk staiton, Gerson made the claim that Kline won endorsement "by less than 3% of the votes." For someone who emphasizes he is adamantly opposed to "politics as usual," Gerson sure has down the politician speak. You see one has to receive at least 60% of delegates' votes in order to be endorsed. So when Gerson says he lost by less than 3%, what he's actually saying is if John Kline would have received 3% fewer votes than the 62.4% he garnered on the first ballot. he would not have won endorsement after round one. Regardless, Gerson chose to abide by said endorsement and not run in a primary. Gerson did, however, make a late primary challenge to Kline in 2012 (he did not run for endorsement in CD2 that year but rather in CD5). Kline cruised to victory by a 70% margin.

One other statement that stood out to me from Gerson's Tuesday appearance on the lesser talk station was that people in CD2 "are ready for a change." That too seems a rather odd sentiment when you consider Kline was overwhelmingly endorsed by GOP delegates in April 2014 and then won the general election by 17 points in what is merely an R+1 district. The fact that Gerson is running to the right of Kline once again makes his candidacy a daunting task.

If there's one silver lining from Gerson's kickoff announcement, it's the fact he was spared the awkward photo op that accompanied the presser declaring his 2014 bid.

You'll notice the two campaign volunteers holding up the Gerson for Congress banner. Apparently someone forgot to bring along something to affix the banner to the wall.

No such blunder on Monday.

Seriously though, as long as Kline desires to seek reelection (he turned 67 years of age last September), he will be the Republican nominee regardless if he's endorsed. Kline is well funded enough to take any GOP challenger to a primary, prevail easily and still have plenty of funds remaining in the war chest for a general election campaign.

Speaking of a general election challenge, someone to the left of Kline has declared her intention to be the Democrat nominee.

......Democratic-Farmer-Laborite Angie Craig, an executive for the last 10 years with St. Jude Medical who, if she were successful, would be the state's first openly gay member of Congress.

Craig, 42, will step down as vice president for global human resources at St. Jude but will remain with the Little Canada-based medical-device company, focusing on diversity and inclusion, veteran hiring and workforce development, according to the company.

Craig married Cheryl Greene in 2008 in California, and they have four sons.

Now an Eagan resident, Craig said she's been fortunate in her business career and wants the chance to serve her district in public office.

"I think my business background and my life experiences make me uniquely qualified to advocate for policies that really help ensure every family has access to jobs, good public schools and quality and affordable health care," she said.

Wait, don't we already have affordable health care thanks to the ACA???? Could this mean Ms. Craig is looking to repeal Obamacare??? Maybe I could support a Democrat candidacy after all!

One of three children, Craig was raised by her mom and grandmother in an Arkansas trailer park, she said, and she learned the value of higher education.

"For me, a huge priority will be to make sure that all families have economic security and access to high-quality, affordable college education," she said.

At whose expense?!?!?! Blah, I shoulda known she was too good to be true.

Barring a surprise retirement announcement, Kline appears headed back to Washington, D.C. after the 2016 election cycle.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quick Hits: Volume CVI

- C'mon, you never really doubted Gov. Mark Dayton's intention to raise the gas tax, did you?

"The condition of Minnesota's highways, roads and bridges are getting worse," Dayton said. "There's one real solution to our predicament, and that's to invest more money in repairs, improvements and modernizations."

More money is what Dayton laid out: close to $900 million per year in ongoing funding, plus $2 billion in additional money borrowed over 10 years. The plan would be about an 18 percent increase on existing road and bridge funding, and would also include about $280 million per year for metro-area transit.

The core of the plan is applying a 6.5 percent tax to gasoline. This complicated proposal would bring in about $440 million per year and cost motorists at least 16 cents per gallon at the pump. Minnesota now charges a 28.5 cents-per-gallon gas tax, in addition to the federal 18.4 cents-per-gallon tax.

For a couple of years prior, Dayton has insisted that because there is no public support for such an increase that he would not seek one. Then one month before the election, he betrayed his true feelings by floating the idea of a gas tax hike only to walk back those comments.

But now that Dayton has been reelected and has already been on record that he'll not seek a third term, polls be darned. This seems to be a golden opportunity for the GOP majority in the MN House to stand strong on a winning issue. Don't fumble it away, gang.

- Judging by the dialogue on Twitter, apparently cable news outlets like CNN have declared themselves The Weather Channel with their non-stop breathless reporting on major winter storms about to hit the northeastern United States.

I guess I'm not all that offended by it given the fact it diverts from their borderline insufferable droning over "DeflateGate" and missing Malaysian airliners.

- Speaking of DeflateGate, upon revelations that the New England Patriots were using under inflated footballs (a violation of NFL rules) during their AFC Championship Game rout of the Indianapolis Colts, I tweeted the following:

Upon quarterback Tom Brady being grilled in a press conference last Thursday, I reiterated my stance:

Then news surfaced Monday on where the NFL's investigation is currently focusing.

The NFL has zeroed in on a New England Patriots locker room attendant who allegedly took the AFC Championship Game balls from the officials' locker room to another area on the way to the field, Fox Sports reported, citing sources.

According to Fox Sports, the league has interviewed him and has video.

The league is still gauging if any wrongdoing occurred, but he is a strong person of interest, Fox Sports reported.

The location in question was a bathroom in which the attendant can be seen in the video entering and exiting in 90 seconds with the 24 footballs provided by both teams, according to Pro Football Talk, which cited an anonymous league source.

The bathroom is a small, one-toilet room with one sink and has a door that locks from the inside, the Pro Football Talk report said.

Between coach Bill Belichick making a reference to a Marisa Tomei character in the movie My Cousin Vinny to Bill Nye the Science Guy refuting Belichick's scientific experiments on footballs, this whole debacle is beyond bizarre at this point.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

I remember when we were gambling to win.....

For the first time in about 4-1/2 months there will be no NFL games starting at Noon today. With that in mind, I have removed all excuses for you to not tune in to The Closer this afternoon. Per usual, I will be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

In the first hour, I will discuss some of the more prominent news events from this past week, including bumbling Republicans in the U.S. House, "Deflate Gate", media elites living by a different set of laws, etc.

Then at 2:00, I will be joined by Devin Foley, who is President of Better Ed, a non-profit organization "dedicated to leading an educational renaissance in America."

So please give me a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Can't get out of their own way

It has been assumed that much of the substantive legislation (i.e. Keystone XL pipeline, tougher sanctions on Iran, etc.) passed by the GOP-controlled Congress this session will likely be vetoed by President Barack Obama. Nevertheless, it behooves Congressional Republicans to pass such legislation that resonates with the electorate and then call out the President for his resistance to sign off. After all, Obama often expressed frustration with "gridlock" during the previously divided Congress and thus pledged to use his pen and phone to make or ignore laws as he sees fit. Now he's the one who can be painted as an obstructionist.

On Wednesday, a mere one day before the annual March for Life to commemorate the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the Republican majority in Congress had an opportunity to pass legislation which would make abortions illegal past 20 weeks of a pregnancy. This seems to be a winner all around from both a practical and political standpoint, especially since a recent Quinnipiac poll indicated 60% support for legislation "that would ban virtually all abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape and incest that are reported to authorities." Seems like a proverbial no-brainer.

Ah, but this is Congressional Republicans we're talking about.

House Republican leaders abruptly dropped plans late Wednesday to vote on an anti-abortion bill amid a revolt by female GOP lawmakers concerned that the legislation's restrictive language would once again spoil the party's chances of broadening its appeal to women and younger voters.

In recent days, as many as two dozen Republicans had raised concerns with the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" that would ban abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. Sponsors said that exceptions would be allowed for a woman who is raped, but she could only get the abortion after reporting the rape to law enforcement.

A vote had been scheduled for Thursday to coincide with the annual March for Life, a gathering that brings hundreds of thousands of anti-abortion activists to Washington to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

But Republican leaders dropped those plans after failing to win over a bloc of lawmakers, led by Reps. Rene Ellmers (R-N.C.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), who had raised concerns.

The House will vote instead Thursday on a bill prohibiting federal funding for abortions -- a more innocuous anti-abortion measure that the Republican-controlled chamber has passed before.

A senior GOP aide said that concerns had been raised "by men and women Members that still need to be worked out." The aide, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the plans, said in an e-mail that Thursday's vote will help "advance the pro-life cause" and that GOP leaders "remain committed to continue working through the process [on the Pain Capable bill] to make sure it too is successful."

Other aides said that leaders were eager to avoid political fallout from a large number of female Republicans voting against an abortion bill in the early stages of the new GOP-controlled Congress.

This makes no sense, especially given the poll results I cited earlier. In fact, 59% of women surveyed supported a measure similar to what was passed by the House in 2013 and was brought up this week. Heck, even those who identify themselves as Democrats are split almost right down the  middle on the issue (46% for, 47% against).

This is a complete embarrassment when you consider that "right to life" issues are supposedly a tenet of the Republican party, the same party which currently has its largest House majority since the days of President Herbert Hoover.

“I’m honestly stunned — what a complete and utter debacle,” says one Republican lawmaker who supports the legislation. The sticking point: “reporting requirements,” as they’re known on the Hill. In short, the bill bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy — when the in utero infant can feel pain — except in cases of rape, incest, or for the life of the mother. But to benefit from the rape and incest exception, the victim has to report the crime to law enforcement.

President Obama criticized that provision as “demonstrating a complete disregard for the women who experience sexual assault and the barriers they may face in reporting,” such as fear of retaliation from their attackers. “Research indicates that the majority of survivors have not reported their sexual assaults to law enforcement,” his statement of administration policy says.

That line of attack worries some Republicans. “There seems to be a fear of Dem attack ads, which is odd for an issue that is 2:1 in our favor,” the GOP lawmaker says.

It’s especially odd given that some of the Republican women who oppose these reporting requirements voted for them when the bill passed the House last Congress.

Smart Girl Politics, a 501(c)4 whose mission is "to engage, educate, and empower conservative women to get involved in the political process," posted the following on their Twitter feed:

Looks like the talk of primaries has started already.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Deflate-gate (UPDATE: League investigation finds 11 of 12 balls underinflated)

Let's be honest here. The only reason so much hay is being made over allegations of an NFL team deflating footballs is because it's the New England Patriots. For that, the Pats organization (specifically head coach Bill Belichick) has no one to blame but themselves due to the Spygate controversy from 2007.

With all that said, it's much ado about nothing. Besides, even if there was the slightest bit of impropriety, do you honestly believe the Roger Goodell regime would be able to adequately uncover it? Color me skeptical.

The reaction of some Patriots players is about what you'd expect. A mere 12 hours after the Pats clinched a berth in their sixth Super Bowl in the Belichick era, future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady laughed off the charges when questioned about it on Boston radio station WEEI.

But perhaps the most epic response was given by Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski via Twitter.

Totally plausible.

UPDATE: The NFL investigation determined that 11 of 12 footballs used by the Patriots were underinflated. The critical question remaining is how that happened. Expect a lowly ball attendant to be thrown under the proverbial bus.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The bad news? Endless nattering about President Barack Obama delivering the State of the Union address this evening.

The good news? It's the second to last one he'll deliver.

The best news? Two years from today, it's quite possible this guy.........

.......will be taking the oath of office in Washington, D.C.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Zero sympathy

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be starring in another State Farm commercial soon.

It'll be a variation of this one:

Rodgers will take the place of the cute chick imploring insurance to "find me money."

As a Minnesota Vikings fan, I am way too familiar with heartbreaking NFC Championship Game defeats. As such, one would think I could be a little more sympathetic to the distraught Packers fans after Green Bay blew a 12-point lead with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, eventually losing 28-22 in overtime against the Seattle Seahawks. But sorry, I can't muster any sympathy. Why? Well, two good reasons actually.

1) The Packers' franchise has 13 championships (including four in Super Bowl era) to my club's zero.

2) When the Vikings last suffered a gut wrenching loss in an NFC title game, we in Minnesota didn't have the option to go to a liquor store for comfort ------ because it was a Sunday.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

You say you hunger for something you can't get at all.....

Nearly three weeks into 2015, it's gotten downright "news-y" each week. This week is no exception as there's a lot to get to on the Northern Alliance Radio Network program The Closer. The show is on from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

Right at 1:00, I will be joined by Ron Eibensteiner, who will be on to promote an upcoming event being put on by the Center of the American Experiment.

The at 2:00, Anna Maria Hoffman will be checking in via phone. Anna Maria is involved in many different ventures, including Counter Cultured (focused on conservative cultural issues) as well as a new outlet called A Taste of Patriarchy. I also want to get AM's perspective on how millennials (of which she is a member) are perceiving the 2016 presidential race.

Speaking of the 2016 race, I will offer my own thoughts on the rumored candidacy of Mitt Romney and how that's being received.

So please give me a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Saturday, January 17, 2015

2014 NFL Playoffs: Conference championship games

Green Bay Packers (+7-1/2) at Seattle Seahawks: This is a rematch of the 2014 season opener where the host Seahawks whipped the Pack 36-16. However, the Packers' offense became exponentially better as the season wore on. The scary thing is Seattle's top flight defense did as well.

To me, this is simple. Were Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers close to 100% for this game, I'd call it a "toss up." However, it was clear he lacked mobility (he also showed slight hesitation to even move around in the pocket) in last week's win over the Dallas Cowboys. Sure, Rodgers threw for over 300 yards, but that was against a porous Cowboys pass defense. This week Green Bay has to try to solve the best defense in the NFL.

If Green Bay is to pull the upset, they best score early. In the past seven games (including playoffs), the vaunted Seattle defense has given up exactly seven points in the fourth quarter, and that was last week when they were up 31-10. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch will do his part to keep Rodgers off the field by running over the Packers' feeble run defense. QB Russell Wilson, in only his third season in the NFL, seems to elevate his game in the postseason.

As difficult as it is to pick against Rodgers even when he's battling a calf injury, I just think Seattle is on an unstoppable roll at this point. They're going to repeat as Super Bowl champs (Yep, I said it).
Seattle 27 Green Bay 17

Indianapolis Colts (+6-1/2) at New England Patriots: Andrew Luck and the Colts have faced the Pats three times (including playoffs) over the past three seasons. New England emerged victorious in all three games, winning by an average score of 48-22. They have also averaged nearly 200 yards rushing in those contests.

Despite the stellar play of third year QB Luck (he now holds the record for most postseason pass yardage after five games), the Colts turned the ball over 31 times in the regular season (third worst in the NFL) and had a turnover margin of -5 (tied for 22nd overall). Meanwhile, the Patriots had the fewest giveaways in the league and had a turnover margin of +12, good for second best.

Like I said last week, as long as Pats TE Rob Gronkowski is healthy, there's no defense in the league that can slow him down. Also, which RB will be the primary ball carrier for New England? In last year's playoff game vs Indy, LeGarrette Blount had 166 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns. In this year's regular season matchup, somebody named Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and also had 4 TDs. It appears QB Tom Brady has some nice options this game.
New England 48 Indianapolis 22

2014 Postseason record: 
Straight up: 5-3
Against the spread: 2-6


Friday, January 16, 2015

On this date five years ago......

.......I received my first opportunity to appear on the AM 1280 The Patriot airwaves! 

Back in that era of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, there was a trio of two hours shows between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm every Saturday. On this day from 11:00-1:00, Brian "St Paul" Ward, one of the original NARN members to debut in March 2004, invited me to fill in for his colleague John Hinderaker of the world renown Powerline blog. 

I had been waiting for this opportunity nearly everyday for the prior 2-1/2 years. You see it was at a MN State Fair broadcast in August of 2007 where Brian approached me in the audience and asked if I would ever be willing to host a show sometime. He was impressed with the poise I showed and the clarity with which I spoke when asking a question of one of their guests. Finally I got my chance! Granted I wasn't a complete novice, as I had been on Twin Cities airwaves back in 2005 on the old "Talk Station" AM 1500 KSTP. Nevertheless, I was jazzed to have the opportunity be on my favorite political radio station. 

The venue for this broadcast was at the Sportsmen's Show at the RiverCentre in downtown St. Paul. While I'm not exactly an avid outdoors guy, this show offered up more to talk about than merely hunting, fishing, etc. Yes, one could say the plethora of guests was very diverse. 

First, there was Lou Ann Best with her cohort Twiggy the water skiing squirrel. 

We then chatted with Michael Cummins, who in 2008 opposed Congressman Jim Oberstar in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. Cummins was planning on vying for the GOP endorsement again in 2010 but lost out to some guy named Chip Cravaack. 

In the second hour we chatted via phone, with prolific Twin Cities author Ross Bernstein about his latest offering I Love Brett Favre, I Hate Brett Favre. 

This was a mere 24 hours before Favre and the Vikings crushed the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional playoffs, earning a spot in the NFC title game against the New Orleans Saints. 

We wrapped up the program in style by chatting with two lovely young ladies by the names of Crystal and Ashley.

These gals were members of The Bikini Ice Fishing Team (because this was a family atmosphere, however, the gals were not in uniform). 

Over the next 16 months, I would fill in or guest co-host on several NARN shows. Then in May 2011 I received the unexpected opportunity to have my own weekly show. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Whenever I've spoken of my foray into talk radio, I typically convey that I've gotten way more out of this venture than I have ever put in. That's as true today as it was on January 16, 2010. 


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Submit, Mitt.

Whether we like it or not, the speculation over who will run for President of the United States in 2016 got rolling very shortly after the 2014 midterm elections.

On the Republican side of the ledger, only Jeb Bush has officially formed an "exploratory committee," which is a precursor to actually entering the race. Rick Santorum certainly sounds as though he is making another run after a surprise showing in the 2012 GOP primaries.

If neither of those names do much for ya (they sure as heck don't for me), the latest Republican candidate buzz likely won't fire ya up.

Mitt Romney is moving quickly to reassemble his national political network, calling former aides, donors and other supporters over the weekend and on Monday in a concerted push to signal his seriousness about possibly launching a 2016 presidential campaign.

Romney’s message, as he told one senior Republican, was that he “almost certainly will” make what would be his third bid for the White House. His aggressive outreach came as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — Romney’s 2012 vice presidential running mate and the newly installed chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee — announced Monday that he would not seek the presidency in 2016.

Romney’s activity indicates that his declaration of interest Friday to a group of 30 donors in New York was more than the release of a trial balloon. Instead, it was the start of a deliberate effort by the 2012 nominee to carve out space for himself in an emerging 2016 field also likely to include former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

A few months after losing the 2012 presidential election to Barack Obama, Romney expressed how he longed to be in the White House. Apparently that sentiment is still looming nearly two years later. Perhaps Romney was also encouraged by feedback he received from the Netflix documentary film Mitt. The prevailing sentiment was that if people knew that side of Romney, perhaps he would have appealed to a broader electorate. I don't know if I buy that, but events that unfolded (on both the domestic and foreign sides) within a year after the election seemed to vindicate Romney's campaign messages.

With all that said, I don't see how Romney makes the same kind of hay he did in 2012 when he appeared to be within striking distance late. The reason he was even that close was due to the fact that a fair amount of voters who voted for Obama in 2008 were having some serious buyer's remorse in '12. As NRO's Jonah Goldberg reminds us, therein lies the main problem with a Romney candidacy.

Most of those voters voted at least as much against Obama as they did for Romney. And that’s exactly how the Romney campaign wanted it. “Our whole campaign is premised on the idea that this is a referendum on Obama,” Romney strategist Stuart Stevens admitted to the New York Times. Well, Romney nostalgia, too, is largely a referendum on Obama.

But Obama won’t be on the ticket in 2016. And the idea that a one-term Massachusetts governor, who hired Jonathan Gruber to help design his health-care plan, is just what the Republicans need to run against Hillary Clinton is odd, particularly when the GOP has a much more talented, and fresher, field than it did in 2012.

There’s chatter that Romney is just trying to keep Bush from locking up all the big donors and preventing a Bush coronation. If so, I’m sympathetic. But the sympathy ends the day Romney announces. Then, he’s just another contender.

Given his significant wealth, the 67-year old Romney could live out the rest of his days living a very comfortable lifestyle with his loving family. As such, I give him a tremendous amount of credit for being so passionate about his desire to be leader of the free world that he's willing to eschew such comfort. But the idea that he could somehow position himself to the right of, say, a potential Scott Walker candidacy would be a near impossible sell to the GOP electorate.

Sorry Mitt, but the third time would definitely not be the charm.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

In need of a little 'mentum?

How 'bout some "Mo?"

Mo Williams that is.

Mo Williams scored a career-high 52 points, most in the NBA this season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped a 15-game losing streak with a 110-101 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.

Williams made six 3-pointers, including one that gave Minnesota a 102-96 lead. Andrew Wiggins added 20 points and Gorgui Dieng had 10 for the Timberwolves (6-31), who won for the first time since beating Portland 90-82 on Dec. 10.

It's been a pretty awful stretch for Minnesota sports of late. Going into Tuesday, the combined record of the Timberwolves, Minnesota Wild and U of M Gophers men's basketball & hockey was an abominable 2-20 since December 30. That doesn't even include the utterly pathetic performance put forth by the Wild in a 7-2 loss at Pittsburgh Tuesday evening.

I wonder how the Swarm is faring this season?


Monday, January 12, 2015

That didn't take long

Whenever negotiations over legislation begin between opposing parties, each throws out its own initial proposal to get the proverbial ball rolling. Neither party is delusional enough to believe the other side will fully acquiesce to the very first suggestion, so there are likely counter proposals in reserve.

I guess that's what makes so baffling the reaction of Governor Mark Dayton upon the Republican majority in the Minnesota House presenting its initial transportation package the first week of the legislative session.

Gov. Mark Dayton slammed a proposal by House Republicans that would pay for fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges through $200 million from the state’s projected budget surplus, calling it “pure fantasy.”

“That’s not a solution. That’s not a short-term solution, that’s not a long-term solution, and it demonstrates that they don’t understand the problem, and they certainly don’t have any serious interest in finding a real solution,” Dayton told reporters at a news conference Friday, one day after the House GOP laid out its legislative priorities. He added that the Republicans’ plan to devote $750 million to transportation over four years by cutting elsewhere in the state budget was straight out of “La-La Land.”

I guess this shouldn't come as a huge shock that Gov. Dayton is conveying such agitation a mere four days into session. A little more than a week before session got started, Dayton flew off the handle over an independent group's advertisement criticizing the current teacher hiring/firing practices. Clearly he was already irritable.

If Dayton made a new years resolution to be less acerbic and curt, he lasted all of about nine days. To be fair, that's still better than some of the folks who frequented my health club the first week of 2015.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Well so far you've heard my voice but I brought two friends along..........

Another Sunday, yet another edition of my radio program The Closer. I will be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 PM Central Time.

At 1:15, I will be joined by the show's official political wonk Matt Mackowiak. We will be discussing the reelection of John Boehner as Speaker of the House as well as what to expect this session of Congress with Republicans controlling both chambers. I will also get Matt's insights on GOP prospects for the 2016 presidential race now that Jeb Bush has declared and Mitt Romney is strongly considering another run.

Then at 1:45, AM 1280 promotions guy Ross Brendel will check in to promote a very special Patriot event coming up in mid February.

In the second hour, I will share my own perspective on the terrorist attack that took place in Paris, France this past week. If time permits, I will also opine on the happenings during the first week of the Minnesota legislative session.

So please give me a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Saturday, January 10, 2015

2014 NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

Baltimore Ravens (+7) at New England Patriots: Bill Belichick has a 12-3 home postseason record as New England's head coach. However, 2 of those 3 losses came courtesy of this weekend's opponent, the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens were impressive last week in their first ever postseason win in Pittsburgh's Heinz Field (0-3 prior). While Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger carved up the Ravens' defense, Baltimore stood strong in the red zone, holding Pittsburgh to three first half field goals as they approached that area of the field. Baltimore's D also forced three turnovers. However, they'll be hard pressed to duplicate that effort in this game as the Patriots turned the ball over a league low 13 times during the regular season. In fact, the Pats turned it over once or not at all in 12 of 16 games.

Of the four games this weekend, many believe this is the contest most ripe for an upset. But not me. Since all-world TE Rob Gronkowski is actually healthy this postseason, I'm thinking he's going to be the X factor in every playoff game the Pats play this cycle.
New England 31 Baltimore 17

Carolina Panthers (+11) at Seattle Seahawks: This is a matchup of two of the NFL's stingiest defenses with the Panthers having the 10th best unit in terms of total yardage while the Seahawks are once again the league's top defense.

Even though the Panthers went winless over a seven game stretch earlier in the season (0-6-1), they've been in playoff mode since week 14, winning their final four games of the year to claim their second consecutive NFC South title. Through the first 11 games, the Panthers vaunted defense was banged up, thus allowing an average of 374 yards per game. But over the last 5 contests of the season, they allowed merely 265 yards per. They saved their best performance for last week by holding the Arizona Cardinals to a downright paltry 78 total yards.

The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks also had a strong finish, winning 9 of their final 10 games and only once allowing an opposing offense to rack up more than 300 yards total. And since Seattle has home field throughout the NFC playoffs, they are looking pretty strong to make a run at a repeat championship.

One area where the Panthers are vulnerable is run defense, where they rank near the bottom by allowing 4.5 yards per carry. This plays well into the hands of Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch, who averages 4.7 yards per rush.

When these two clubs met in week 8, Seattle went to Charlotte, NC and came out with a hard fought 13-9 victory. I sense a similar gritty game this time around.
Seattle 17 Carolina 10

Dallas Cowboys (+5-1/2) at Green Bay Packers: In the 2014 regular season, the Cowboys were undefeated on the road. The Packers were unbeaten at home. Something's gotta give.

If Packers QB Aaron Rodgers were 100%, I say the Pack wins handily. Unfortunately for Green Bay, Rodgers has a slight tear in his calf muscle, which limits his being able throw on the run. I don't know if there's a quarterback in all the NFL who does it better. Rodgers is still a top 5 QB even at 90% healthy. But what if he's only at, say, 50%? All of a sudden the Cowboys have a fighting chance.

Regardless, Dallas will look to limit the number of snaps Rodgers takes in the game. Having the NFL's leading rusher in DeMarco Murray (1,845 yards) certainly helps, especially against the league's 23rd ranked run defense. The Packers defense also has the unenviable task of trying to slow down WR Dez Bryant, who led the NFL with 16 touchdown receptions.

One way or another, this game will demonstrate why Rodgers in the league's most valuable player. I say that he'll have just enough against a pass defense ranked number 26 in terms of yards allowed.
Green Bay 31 Dallas 28

Indianapolis Colts (+7) at Denver Broncos: This is a rematch of week one of this regular season, a 31-24 Denver win.

The Colts have a terrific passing game led by QB Andrew Luck. However, their run game is average at best and the defense has been lit up by some of the more high powered offenses this season (five different games they allowed 425 total yards or more, including 500+ twice).

Denver QB Peyton Manning struggled the final five regular season games, throwing 5 touchdowns, 6 interceptions and averaging a pedestrian 233 yards passing. His 60.7% completion percentage during that stretch is well below his career average of 65.5%. Despite all that, Denver still won 4 of those final 5 games, thanks in large part to a defense that finished third in the NFL in total yards allowed.

This bye week for the Broncos was huge. I believe that will be the biggest difference, especially for Manning.
Denver 35 Indianapolis 20

2014 Postseason record: 
Straight up: 2-2
Against the spread: 1-3


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Repose en paix

I've really had a difficult time processing the horrific events that took place in Paris, France Wednesday morning. Even as the story is conveyed, I'm utterly horrified.

One man sought in the deadly shooting at a French satirical paper has turned himself in, and police hunted Thursday for two heavily armed men with possible links to al-Qaida in the military-style, methodical killing of 12 people at the office of a satirical newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad.

President Francois Hollande, visiting the scene of France's deadliest such attack in more than half a century, called the assault on the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo "an act of exceptional barbarism."

France raised its terror alert system to the maximum — Attack Alert — and bolstered security with more than 800 extra soldiers to guard media offices, places of worship, transport and other sensitive areas. Fears had been running high in France and elsewhere in Europe that jihadis trained in warfare abroad would stage attacks at home.

French brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, in their early 30s, should be considered armed and dangerous, according to a police bulletin released early Thursday. Mourad Hamyd, 18, surrendered at a police station in Charleville-Mezieres, a small town in France's eastern Champagne region, said Paris prosecutor's spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre. She did not offer details on Hamyd's relationship with the men.

The goal of Islamofascism is to implement Sharia Law across the globe, which flies in the face of a culture in the West that values freedom of expression. Upon carrying out this attack, the gunmen allegedly shouted "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" and "God is Great" in Arabic ("Allahu Akbar").

Naturally the next question is will such an incident happen in our country in the near future? Personally I'm rather fond of the freedom and liberty we enjoy in the U.S. and thus would prefer that our leaders would be willing to make a vow to not waver (blaming Benghazi on a YouTube video then detaining the filmmaker didn't exactly instill a lot of confidence). Nevertheless, I say we hold President Obama to the statement he made in his first inaugural address back in January 2009.

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken -- you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
Nous sommes Charlie.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Outraged over the inevitable

In perusing social media during John Boehner's reelection as House Speaker on Tuesday, I got the feeling I was one of few conservatives not exuding frothing-at-the-mouth rage over Boehner's victory. The rage was at a fever pitch in the Congressional District I reside as our newly elected Republican House member, Tom Emmer, cast a vote for Boehner. Call me crazy (or a RINO or an "establishment guy") but I'm going to reserve judgement on Emmer until I see how he votes on issues which impact the size and scope of government.

Look, I'm not going to sit here and tell you I'm an unabashed Boehner supporter (I am not). I felt he too often caved when going head-to-head with the Democrat majority in the Senate as well as President Obama over issues like raising the debt ceiling, shutting down government, etc. But at the end of the day, controlling only one chamber of Congress wasn't exactly a politically advantageous position for Boehner and his fellow House Republicans. But now that the GOP has complete control of Congress after attaining a majority in the U.S. Senate, bills passed in the House will actually come up for debate (and subsequently passed) in the Senate under new majority leader Mitch McConnell. As such, the burden of obstructionism now lays at the feet of the President.

There definitely seemed to be some momentum to an "anyone but Boehner" movement. Per the WaPo, the 24 GOP votes for someone other than Boehner was "the largest rebellion by a party against its incumbent speaker since the Civil War." However, I never got a sense that a serious campaign was waged by any one opponent. Reps Louie Gohmert and Ted Yoho were two candidates looking to unseat Boehner but got no traction. Even more embarrassing was Florida Congressman Daniel Webster cobbling together a candidacy literally an hour before Tuesday's roll call. If no one candidate is going to do little more than "Boehner sucks, I don't" then we shouldn't be outraged when the rebellion fails.

Alas, all these sideshows and infighting have plagued the GOP for some time now. For crying out loud, the Republicans have the largest majority in the US House (246-189) in nearly 90 years yet day one of the 114th Congress was spent participating in the proverbial circular firing squad.

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Quick Hits: Volume CV

- Thanks to the internet, there's never a shortage of evidence of how the 2006 film Idiocracy may well have been a biography. An example of this would be the notion that if a political figure is fan of a sports team outside the state which said pol resides, then he/she has effectively dashed presidential prospects.

OK, I'll grant you that New Jersey governor Chris Christie trying to embrace Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, after Dallas's dramatic playoff win over the Detroit Lions looked extremely awkward. As such, Christie was the subject of much ridicule on myriad social media sites. But the idea that people would be dismissive of Christie as a presidential candidate based solely on his rooting interest of a sports time they loathe is (I'll be charitable) downright silly.

Many of you may be wondering if I'm being a hypocrite here and might even be querying whether or not I would support a political candidate who was a fan of the Green Bay Packers, a team I root against vociferously. Not only would I enthusiastically support a presidential run for, say, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker but I actually donated money in 2014 to Congressional candidate Stewart Mills.

- In their game against the Denver Nuggets Monday evening, the Minnesota Timberwolves were without the services of head coach Flip Saunders, who missed the game due to "illness."

No word on whether or not Flip's condition was exacerbated by his reviewing game film from the month of December when the Wolves went 1-14.

- The Minnesota Legislature is back in session today {insert scary music here}. Yesterday was the inaugural ceremony featuring the swearing in of Gov. Mark Dayton, for which House Speaker-designate Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) was a no-show. Naturally, a certain local media outlet was in midseason form when  reporting on this news (emphasis mine).

Daudt is preparing for Tuesday’s start of the 2015 Legislative session when he is expected to be elected speaker.

Daudt’s decision to not attend today’s festivities follows his repeated pledges to work with Dayton in the coming months to find common ground solutions.

I may be reading too much into this but it almost appears as if MPR guy Tim Pugmire is questioning Daudt's integrity here. I wonder if would have used the same tone had he known right away that a certain DFL leader would also not be attending.


In an equally surprising more
(sic), the top Democrat in the Minnesota Senate is also a no show. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, could not attend the inauguration due to scheduling issues, according to a spokeswoman.

Hmmm. Interesting. Could it be that Bakk is still fuming over Dayton essentially calling him a liar during session last year? I'm sure Pugmire et al are ON IT!


Sunday, January 04, 2015

Adieu, Stu

The "Worldwide Leader in Sports" loses a long tenured member.

Stuart Scott, a longtime anchor at ESPN, died Sunday morning at the age of 49.

Among the features of the new ESPN studio in Bristol is a wall of catchphrases made famous by on-air talent over the years. An amazing nine of them belong to one man -- from his signature "Boo-Yah!" to "As cool as the other side of the pillow" to "He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin' him to school."

That man is Stuart Scott, and his contributions to the sports lexicon are writ large. But they are only one aspect of his legacy. When he passed away, he left behind so much more. He inspired his colleagues with his sheer talent, his work ethic and his devotion to his daughters, Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15. He defied convention and criticism to help bring this network into a new century. He spoke to the very athletes he was talking about with a flair and a style that ESPN president John Skipper says, "changed everything."

There's a video clip of several moving tributes by Scott's ESPN colleagues (current and former) within the link I provided above (Perhaps the most emotionally raw tribute was by former ESPN co-anchor Rich Eisen, now of NFL Network, who learned of Scott's passing literally minutes before his NFL pregame hosting duties). Said colleagues and friends admired Scott's willingness to just "be himself" while delivering sports highlights (i.e. narrating them with a "hip hop" flair) and were inspired by his tireless fight against three different cancer diagnoses since 2007.

This past July, Scott inspired many others with a speech he gave upon receiving the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the annual ESPYs.

While I was moved to tears by many of the homages paid to Scott, I couldn't help but bristle at some of the statements almost implying that he was on par with civil rights leaders. Yes, Scott was a trendsetter in the sports broadcasting genre, reaching a whole new audience likely not attained by middle aged white men like Chris Berman, Bob Ley, Charley Steiner, et al. But let's not pretend that drawing a whole new demographic (i.e. African American youth) to a sports entertainment program is the equivalent of MLK marching in the streets on behalf of desegregation. No, what Scott should be most lauded for is the way he constantly doted on his young daughters or how he continued a rigorous work schedule and intense physical regimen despite being gassed after chemotherapy sessions. The example he set for his children on how a real man should represent himself is the legacy that will outlive anything he has ever done.

The key excerpt of Scott's ESPY Award acceptance speech was “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” Given the testimonials conveyed by those who knew Scott, the manner in which he lived was definitely a betterment to those with whom he came in contact.


If I could buy my reasoning, I'd pay to lose......

It's my first show of 2015, so I'm excited to start another year on the Northern Alliance Radio Network! I will be on the air from 1:00 until 3:00 pm Central Time.

In the first hour, I'll look back on this past week where Minnesota governor Mark Dayton is warming up his petulant self a week ahead of the next legislative session. I'll also discuss how the Minnesota Republican Party is its own worst P.R. firm.

For the entire 2:00 hour, MN State Senator/Real Estate guru/celebrity stalker/friend of the NARN Karin Housley will stop by the Patriot bunker. We'll discuss the upcoming legislative session as well as look back on Karin's very eventful 2014.

So please give me a call at (651) 289-4488 if you'd like to discuss any of the topics I plan on addressing. You can also text comments/questions to (651) 243-0390.

You can listen live in the Twin Cities at AM 1280 on your radio dial. In and out of the Minneapolis-St Paul area, you can listen to the program on the Internet by clicking this link, or check us out via iheart radio

Even though I have a face for radio, there is a UStream channel where you can watch the broadcast, if you so desire. Check it out here.  

And if you're so inclined, follow along on Twitter at #narn or "Like" our Facebook page.

Until then.....


Saturday, January 03, 2015

2014 NFL Playoffs: Wildcard

Arizona Cardinals (+6-1/2) at Carolina Panthers: The Cards are in complete disarray offensively with Ryan Lindley and Logan Thomas as their top two quarterbacks. Since starter Carson Palmer suffered an season-ending knee injury, the Cardinals have gone 3-4 while averaging around 12 points per game.

The Panthers won the inept NFC South with a mediocre 7-8-1 record. However, they finished the season strong with four consecutive wins, including a 34-3 thrashing of the Atlanta Falcons on the road in a winner-take-all matchup in Week 17. Carolina is also starting to resemble the top tier defense they had last year when they earned a first round bye in the playoffs. QB Cam Newton and the rest of the offense will have enough to win at home.
Carolina 24  Arizona 14

Baltimore Ravens (+3) at Pittsburgh Steelers: These bitter AFC North rivals have faced off in the playoffs three times with the Steelers winning on all three occasions. They split the two 2014 contests with the home team prevailing by a 20-point margin.

Ravens QB Joe Flacco has had another nice season, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. However, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was even better, throwing for nearly 5,000 yards 32 touchdowns (including six in the Week 9 game vs. the Ravens).

The Steelers won the AFC North with an 11-5 record, but did so primarily on the strength of the NFL's second ranked offense in terms of total yardage. Their defense, however, was downright pedestrian ranking on the bottom half of the league.The biggest question mark for Pittsburgh is how they will fare without RB Le'Veon Bell, who totaled more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage this season. Bell tweaked his knee in Week 17 and has been declared out for this game. Nevertheless, Big Ben will utilize other potent weapons like WRs Antonio Brown (1,698 yds and 13 TDs) and Martavis Bennett as well as TE Heath Miller.

On the flip side, the Steelers' D has to deal with a rejuvenated veteran WR in Steve Smith (1,065 yards and 6 TDs) as well as 1,000-yd rusher Justin Forsett. This has the potential to be an offensive shootout, something that isn't typical of two franchises who take such pride in playing stout defense.
Pittsburgh 31 Baltimore 24

Cincinnati Bengals (+3) at Indianapolis Colts: This is a rematch of Week 7 when the Colts shutout the Bengals 27-0 in Indy. Despite that, I still have a difficult time getting a handle on this game. While both teams achieved double digit number of victories (Cincinnati 10, Indianapolis 11) during the regular season, both suffered some hideous losses as well.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is 0-5 all time in the postseason. The only other coach to lose his first five appearances was Jim Mora (he went 0-6).

The key to this game will be for Cincy to utilize rookie RB Jeremy Hill (1,124 yards rushing in 2014 and 9 TDs) against Indy's sub par run defense. This will succeed in keeping QB Andrew Luck and Co. off the field. Luck had yet another terrific season, as he threw for 4,761 yards and 40 TDs. However, he has a tendency to turn to the ball over, evidenced by his 16 INTs.

There has to be at least one upset this weekend, doesn't there?
Cincinnati 34 Indianapolis 31

Detroit Lions (+6-1/2) at Dallas Cowboys: This is perhaps the most intriguing game of the weekend, as it will pit the league's second best run offense (Dallas, led by RB DeMarco Murray's franchise record 1,845 yards rushing) against the #1 run defense. The Lions (1 playoff win in the past 57 years) also scored some rare good fortune as DT Ndamukong Suh successfully appealed a suspension for this game and DT Nick Fairley may well be active for the first time since October.

In the end, I believe the Cowboys' offensive line will win the battle up front. Even if Murray doesn't get his (though I believe he will), Detroit's secondary has been hidden all season thanks to their stellar front seven. That said, WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten won't be silenced this game.
Dallas 28 Detroit 20